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Homelessness advice for victims of Domestic Violence

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse includes any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. The abuse can be psychological, physical, social, financial, or emotional.

Domestic abuse can happen between two people who are or were intimate partners or family members, regardless of their gender or sexuality. If you are in fear of a partner, ex-partner or member of your family, you might be experiencing domestic abuse. Do they often:

  • call you names and make you feel bad about yourself?
  • make you afraid by threatening you or your children?
  • behave violently towards you?
  • stop you seeing your friends or family?
  • keep you without money?
  • harm you or make you feel you could be seriously harmed?

If the answer to some of these questions is yes you might be experiencing domestic abuse.

Get help now

If you are in immediate danger dial 999 to speak to the police straight away, or for non-emergencies dial 111.

You can contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 if you're a woman experiencing domestic abuse. You can talk confidentially to someone about your situation and to find out what your options are. If you are a man experiencing domestic abuse you can contact the Men's Advice Line

Tel: 0808 801 0327

If you are in a same-sex relationship you can call the National LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline

Tel: 0800 999 5428

Call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 if you feel in despair and want someone to listen to you and provide emotional support. Call the police on 999 if:

  • your personal safety is threatened
  • you are at risk of assault or injury
  • in an emergency.


The Housing Solutions service confirms whatever you discuss with the service will always remain completely confidential.

Get homelessness help from the council

You can apply as a homeless person if you can't stay in your home. The council has to give you advice about finding somewhere to live. You are entitled to apply to any local authority and you will not be referred back to your local authority of residence if there is a risk of violence if you return.

You will not be considered ‘intentionally homeless’ if you leave your home or have left your home because of domestic violence. If the council has a duty to find you somewhere to live you will be asked to provide details of your situation. You may be asked for supporting evidence, which could include details and dates of incidents. You can take a friend or an adviser with you for support.

Remember that you can request to be seen by a housing officer of the same gender as you, and you can also request an interpreter if you do not speak English. Everything you share with your case worker will remain confidential and you will not be under an obligation to report any incident to the police if you seek help from the council.

Get advice immediately if the council says it won't help you because it believes it was reasonable for you to stay in your home. You could challenge this decision.

Use Shelter's directory to find a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice in your area. Contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345 if you are entitled to legal aid.

Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your area.

Leaving home immediately

If you wish to remain in your home and exclude the offender the Sanctuary Project can provide you with tailored home security and safety planning support. This project is run by the council in partnership with the police. The service is based on a risk assessment and aims to prevent homelessness amongst victims of domestic violence. It is not suitable for victims still living with the offender or in high risk cases where re-housing is the only safe option.

For further information, contact the VAWG & Hate Crime Team by phone 0800 279 5434 or email domestic.violence@towerhamlets.gov.uk  (non-secure), 

If you're a woman escaping domestic abuse, try to find a place in a women's refuge. Contact the council's Housing Department on 020 7364 7474 between 10am – 4pm and/or contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0808 2000 247

Take some essentials with you such as a change of clothes, toiletries and any medication you need to take regularly. Try to bring important items such as your passport, bank and credit cards and mobile phone.

Don't make a decision to give up your home permanently until you have spoken to an adviser and considered all of your option.

Use Shelter's directory to find a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice in your area.

Contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 3454 345 to find out if you are entitled to legal aid.

Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your area.

Help from social services

Some people may be entitled to help from the council's social services department.

Social services might be able to help if you:

  • are elderly
  • have children living with you
  • are under the age of 18
  • have left care (or are about to do so)
  • are in poor health
  • have a physical or learning disability

Social services may be able to help by finding accommodation for you, paying for a deposit or providing financial support. There are no rules about the kind of help social services have to provide. You can contact our Social services department on 02073645020 for further information about the support they can provide for you 

Refuges for women 

Women experiencing domestic abuse may be able to stay in a women's refuge.

Some refuges are specifically for women from certain backgrounds, such as Irish or Asian women. Staff at refuges can give you advice about your situation.

Contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for more information about refuges.

Refuges for men

If you are man who has to leave home because of domestic abuse, you can make a homeless application to the council. There is limited specialist housing for men experiencing domestic abuse. For further help finding men’s refuge spaces, please contact M.A.L.E. The advice line is open Monday to Friday, 10am-1pm and 2-5pm. Call 0808 801 0327 or visit the M.A.L.E website.

Contact a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice to check what help is available.

Use Shelter's directory to find help in your area.

Help for children and young people

If you or someone else in your family is being hurt at home, you may not be sure what you can do about it. Domestic abuse is not your fault and you won't get into trouble for telling someone about it. The first thing is to tell someone else about what is happening to you. You can tell a teacher, a neighbour, a friend or a friend's parent.

You can call Childline on 0800 1111 for free. They won't tell anyone else you are calling unless you are in immediate danger. They can tell you about places where you can get help.

No Recourse to Public Funds

There are some refuges that accept victims with no recourse to public funds although there is limited availability.

There is limited support available from the council if you do not have recourse to public funds. For more information on whether you are eligible for assistance by the council contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Law Centre.

There are some ways you can apply to remain in the UK and become eligible for more assistance:

Individuals who are in the UK on a spouse or partner visa usually have leave to enter or to remain in the UK for between 24 and 30 months, this is often referred to as the probationary period. If you have come to the UK on a spouse or partner visa and you are experiencing domestic abuse you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain straight away.  You can apply at any time during the probationary period (you do not have to wait until it comes to an end) and even if you have overstayed your visa (however you will have to justify your reasons for not applying before).

If you are thinking of applying for ILR under the domestic violence rule it is very important that you try and get legal advice. A legal representative will be able to collect evidence for you and help make your application.

Women making applications under the domestic violence rule can get accommodation and access to welfare benefits whilst they make the application through the Home Office Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC). You can apply for this through the gov.uk website. 

Please see below for organisations that can provide support with DDVC and asylum applications:

Rights of Women provide an advice line with free, confidential legal advice on immigration issues. Contact women lawyers on: 020 7251 8887 or 020 7490 2562 (text phone) on Mondays 2-4pm and Wednesdays 11am-1pm. 

The Citizens Advice Bureau and Law Centres will also be able to provide advice. Tower Hamlets Citizens Advice Bureau address: 32 Greatorex Street, London, E1 5NP.

Visit Citizens Advice East End for online support and resources. Alternatively, email towerhamlets@eastendcab.org.uk (for informational and general enquiries), or telephone the adviceline on 020 7247 1050.

You can look for a solicitor or immigration representative in your area using Civil Legal Advice (084 3345 4345 Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm. Saturday, 9am-2.30pm).

Tower Hamlets may be required to provide NRPF families with accommodation and/or financial support when there is a child under 18 in the family. If this is a situation that applies to you, you can contact our Social services department on 020 7364 5000.

The Revive Project

The Revive Project is Pan UK and a new initiative rolled out by Homefinders. The project is for victims of DV that may want to resettle in permanent social housing in a different part of the country.

We expect that this project will be used as one of the prevention or relief tools for DV applicants

Homefinder has a team in their organisation that are working on the project to support clients that are referred  to the scheme.

Domestic abuse perpetrator helpline

Domestic abuse perpetrator helpline, email address and webchat. Perpetrators can confidentially utilise this service to help them change their abusive behaviour.  Professionals can also use the helpline to obtain advice and support on working with perpetrators.

Respect Phoneline

Open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. Free from landlines and mobile phones. Your call will not appear on your phone bill statement. 

Tel: 0808 802 4040

Email: info@respectphoneline.org.uk


Webchat available on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am-4pm on the Respect Phoneline website.